Mitch McConnell just gave Democrats a huge gift — by publicly tainting any acquittal of Trump: columnist
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, left) and President Donald Trump (right). Image via screengrab.

It seems all but inevitable that the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will end with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) mustering the votes to block conviction, no matter what the evidence says and no matter whether Democrats successfully bring in new witnesses and documents.

But McConnell has already handed a victory to Democrats in one key aspect, wrote columnist E. J. Dionne for the Washington Post. His handling of the trial has removed any possibility that impeachment will bolster the president's approval — and emboldened Democrats to take their case to the American people as hard as they can. Indeed, wrote Dionne, Democrats "owe a debt" to McConnell.

"Recall that when Democrats were debating whether to impeach President Trump last year, those opposed to the move argued there was no chance that Senate Republicans would remove him from office, committed as they are to marching off any cliff toward which the president directs them," wrote Dionne. The fear was that Trump would inevitably tout acquittal in the Senate as vindication. He’d say that impeachment was, to use a word invoked over and over by his hapless lawyer Pat Cipollone on the Senate floor (because he had little of substance to say), 'ridiculous.' But ... by working with Trump to rig the trial by admitting as little evidence as possible, McConnell robbed the proceeding of any legitimacy as a fair adjudication of Trump’s behavior."

"Instead of being able to claim that Trump was 'cleared' by a searching and serious process, Republican senators will now be on the defensive for their complicity in the Trump coverup," continued Dionne. "Thanks to assertions by Trump’s lawyers that he did absolutely nothing wrong, an acquittal vote, as The Post editorialized, 'would confirm to Mr. Trump that he is free to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election and to withhold congressionally appropriated aid to induce such interference. Is that the position that Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Martha McSally (Ariz.), among others, want to embrace as they run for reelection this fall? Good luck with that."

"When he was asked about the GOP’s behavior on impeachment on MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe' on Wednesday, Biden offered his verdict with quiet sadness. 'I think it’s one of the things they’re going to regret,' he said, 'when their grandchildren read in history books what they did,'" concluded Dionne. "And many of them may regret it sooner than that, when voters cast their ballots in November."

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